REACHING A CRUX…. a learning commons update
A high school learning commons may seem like an oxymoron to some folks but to us it’s a happy educational stew cooking on a light boil. We are struggling with as our KSS Library has evolved. In no specific order…..just a few observations as we enter a busy June
1.) mission: even with a tradition and a school library culture of open access, literacy instruction and intellectual scholarship the purpose of a program is high-jacked by other agendas and mythologies. Reclaiming or re-purposing staff, schedules, services and resources in a timely fashion is not only costly but logistically challenging ( see JComfort >
2.) food: our site and student body are getting messier and messier. I am not a janitor. We are in serious shortage of custodial service already. It is an awful problem. Check out out student parking lot. My casual nature and love of the latte is conflicted but I also appreciate the need for a clean and healthy carpet. I do not wish the ‘learning’ side of learning commons to be invaded by the common sticky slurpy.
3.) space: I have the luxury of a large space at KSS yet I have to be a field manager and parking lot attendant or sometimes policeman. The demand is too great. I have been innovative and designed niches that are always utilized. When kids suggest they need to leave the commons area and find a quiet place to think or do work, I get very worried. There are no quiet environs in the building with exception of the broom closets!
4) laptops: lovely devices yet… unless I am booked at capacity with classes ( which is frequent ) I loan out ThinkPads to students by the dozens. To help maintain inventory for each block, I choose to barcode and circulate the units. It’s a hassle but I get them back. We cannot afford to have units all over the school when we need for a class next period (I do get circ data too)… but it can be so busy sometimes I feel like a laptop jockey….
5) patrons: the best part of any learning commons is students. The added bonus as a teacher-librarian is the professional rewards of serving and collaborating with teachers. Students receive a rich learning experience when we can engage with them and their teacher. Perhaps the most interesting and dynamic patron of our Library is the ‘casual’ or drop in student. As a senior high school we welcome an average of 1100 teens across our threshold each day. The resource period students, DL students, DIS students, teacher preps, etc and the am/lunch/pm crowd that uses the commons for reading or homework or whatever, is a diverse and unpredictable crowd. We serve a large and dynamic community. We are challenged to provide resources and develop new teaching strategies in a huge range of curricula.
6) books: the popularity and demand for print remains very high. “Good morning Ms. Bede, huuummm do you have any THINKING books?” Well there is a new expression we are going to